Central Texas Storybooks

Central Texas Stories and Legends

The Halley Children

Part 3 of 3: The Halley Children

Recap of Part 2: Capt. Robert B. Halley and his wife Lydia moved to Texas in 1853, settling near San Antonio. In 1855 they moved to the Salado area, settling in a neighborhood of what is now Prairie Dell. In 1859, Halley bought lots on the south side of Salado Creek, built a log house, and moved his family into the village of Salado. In 1869 they built a beautiful two-story home on the north edge of Salado known as the Halley House. The Halley family was blessed with eight children, two born in Arkansas and six born in Salado, making a total of four girls and four boys.

The Halley Family
The Robert Bonner and Lydia Halley family. Date unknown, but after the death of Samuel in 1885.
Seated (l to r): Emma, Lydia, Fredonia Augusta, Herbert.
Standing (l to r): William, Emma, Robert, Mimmie.
Fredonia Augusta Halley Ramsdell
Fredonia Augusta Halley Ramsdell.

Ellen Halley Wilkirson
Martha Eleanor (Ellen) Halley Wilkirson.

Emma Halley
Emma Halley, the Halleys' first child born in Salado.

1. Fredonia Augusta Halley Ramsdell

The Halley's first child was Fredonia Augusta, who was born November 24, 1850 at Warren, Arkansas.1 She was five years old when her parents moved to Salado. She graduated from Salado College in 1871. While in college she was member of the Amasavourian society, a society to promote reading for young ladies. She married Charles Henry Ramsdell on September 3,1874. Ramsdell was a Salado merchant and sold dry goods and groceries in his C.H. Ramsdell store.

According to the US Federal Census of June 1, 1900, the Ramsdell family was living in Brazoria County, Texas. Other members of the household included their four sons, Charles William, Robert Leroy, Frederick Lee, Marshall Albert, and one daughter, Alice Emma.

The Ramsdell's first born son, Charles William Ramsdell (1877-1942) became a renowned history professor at the University of Texas in Austin and is remembered for completing the book History of Bell County for his friend George W. Tyler after Tyler's death in 1927.

Charles Henry Ramsdell died on July 13, 1903 at age 61 in Alvin, Brazoria County, Texas. Augusta Halley Ramsdell died August 19, 1919 and was buried in Dallas, Texas.

Two of the Ramsdell's children are buried in the Salado Cemetery. They are Lena Halley Ramsdell who died in 1887 at the age of 8 months and Mimmie Ramsdell who died in 1883 at the age of 3 years. Sadly, the Ramsdell's lost another child, Herbert Sidney who died in 1896 at the age of 3. His burial place is unknown.

The Halley children's maternal grandmother is also buried in the Salado Cemetery. Martha Hudspeth Ederington, who came to Texas with the Halleys in 1853, died in 1880 at the age of 78 and was buried in the Old Salado Graveyard section of the cemetery.2

2. Martha Eleanor (Ellen) Halley Wilkirson

Martha Eleanor (Ellen) Halley Wilkirson was born September 28,1852 in Warren, Arkansas.3 Very little information could be found regarding Ellen other than her marriage to Sidney Elias Wilkirson. She died quite young, at age 42, on June 18, 1895. It is believed she was buried in Eddy, Texas.

3. Emma Halley

Emma Halley, the Halley's first-born child in Salado, was born June 14, 1855.4 She was 20 years old at the time of her father's death in 1875. Emma graduated from Salado College and then became a teacher at the college. Emma, like her older sister, was also a member of the Amasavourian reading club.

Emma moved to Dallas in 1889 and began teaching at the Oak Grove School, the first brick school building in the city. During her time there, the name of the school was changed to City Park School. During the year prior to her retirement in 1924, Emma taught in the Ruthmeade School. Emma died on January 11, 1929 at the age of 74. She had taught with the Dallas public school for 35 years - 32 as a principal. Funeral services for Emma were conducted in her home with her pastor, Dr. L. N. D. Wells, pastor of the East Dallas Christian Church officiating. She was buried in Oakland Cemetery in Dallas.5

Robert Burns Halley
Robert Burns Halley was the Halleys' fourth child and their first son.

Mimmie Halley, age 17
Lydia (Mimmie) Halley Smith was the Halleys' fifth child and their fourth daughter.

4. Robert Burns Halley

Robert Burns Halley, Halley's oldest son, was born July 12, 1858.6 He was 17 at the time of his father's death in 1875. Robert Burns graduated from Salado College and then like his sister, Emma, became a teacher at the college. He later graduated from the University of Texas and became a prominent educator and was known as Professor Halley. He occupied the chair of physics and chemistry at the Sam Houston Normal Institute in Huntsville for many years.

After 32 years, he resigned and later became connected with the Texarkana High School where he taught physics and chemistry. Professor Halley died July 6, 1923 following surgery at his brother's hospital in Ballinger, Texas. His funeral service was held at the home of his sister, Miss Emma Halley, who lived on King's Road north of Dallas. He was buried at Oakland Cemetery. Upon his death, Sam Houston Normal Institute initiated The Halley Memorial Loan Fund in memory of Professor R.B. Halley.7

5. Lydia (Mimmie) Halley Smith

Lydia (Mimmie) Halley Smith was born May 13, 1861.8 Mimmie was an infant when her father left for the Civil War and she was 14 at the time of her father's death. Mimmie graduated from Salado College, and then married a man named John Ransome Smith. The couple had one child, Eugenia Halley Smith. Mimmie later joined her sister Emma as a teacher in the Dallas city schools.

Mimmie was also the family historian. On October 5, 1885, the 10th anniversary of her father's death, Mimmie wrote a note reminiscing about her father.9 She wrote of how much her father was beloved and respected by his friends. Mimmie, the last survivor of the Halley children, died November 29,1958 in Ruston, Louisiana at the age of 98. She was buried with her mother, two sisters, and one brother at Oakland Cemetery in Dallas.

6. Samuel Leroy Halley

Samuel Leroy Halley was the Halley's sixth child and their second-born son. Samuel was born March 3, 1866.10 He was10 years old at the time of his father's death. Samuel never married and there are no known photographs of Samuel. The 1880 census shows him to be a store clerk. Samuel died on June 24, 1885 at the age of 19 years after a brief illness. He was buried beside his father in the Old Graveyard Section of the Salado Cemetery. A single monument marks the two graves.

7. William Benjamin (W. B.) Halley

William Benjamin (W.B.) Halley, who was 6 years old at the time of his father's death, was born August 9, 1868.11 William was a member of the first graduating class of Thomas Arnold High School in 1892. In 1898, Halley and his college roommate, Dr. A. S. Love, went to Ballinger, Texas where they founded the Ballinger Clinic-Hospital.

The doctors and the hospital gained a very favorable reputation after Drs. Halley and Love performed the first Caesarean operation known of in Texas, in which the mother and baby both survived.12 The proud, yet grateful parents named their new baby Halley Love.

Dr. Halley married Velma Bailey, also of Salado. Both were active in the Masons and Eastern Star organizations in Ballinger. At one time, Dr. Halley held title of Worthy Patron of the Order of the Eastern Star in Texas, while Velma held the position of Worthy Grand Organist of the General Grand Chapter of O.E.S.

The Halleys had no children but reared Velma's nephew, Dr. Charles Bailey. Dr. Bailey became associated with the Halley and Love Hospital in 1928. He assumed many of his uncle's responsibilities when Halley retired from practice in 1941. Beloved physician Dr. W. B. Halley died December 6, 1951 in Ballinger at the age of 82 and was buried in Ballinger, Texas.

8. Herbert Horace Halley

Herbert Horace Halley was the Halley's eighth child and fourth-born son. Herbert Horace Halley, who was only 3 years old at the time of his father's death in 1875, was born April 27, 1872.13 Very little information could be found regarding Herbert other than his marriage to Della Younger and that the couple had no children. The Federal census records of 1880 show him to be a farm laborer. Herbert died January 12, 1908 and was buried in Ballinger, Texas.

The Halley House

The Halley household was always abuzz with people and their activities. The Halleys had a large extended family including widowed mothers, and brothers and sisters who either lived with the Halleys or came for extended visits. Later, as the children married, in-laws and grandchildren soon became a part of the family. There were times when three generations were living in the house.

During its 150-year history, the Halley House has had only seven owners. The house now stands with columns and shutters and a white picket fence, all of it somewhat scarred by the hands of time; yet now a new owner is making plans to bring new life and purpose to this grand, old, beloved, historic home on the main street of Salado, Texas.

By Charlene Ochsner Carson
Page last updated: October 19, 2018


  1Robert Halley family Bible.
  2Salado Cemetery Records
  3Robert Halley family Bible.
  4Robert Halley family Bible.
  5Dallas News, January 12, 1929.
  6Robert Halley family Bible.
  7Bulletin from 1935-1936, Texas Genealogy Trails, Walker County, Texas, Sam Houston State Teachers College.
  8Robert Halley family Bible.
  9Note by Mimmie Halley Smith reminiscing about her father on the 10th anniversary of his death, October 5, 1885.
  10Robert Halley family Bible.
  11Robert Halley family Bible.
  12The Ballinger Ledger, 50th Anniversary Celebration 1936 as printed in the Runnels County TXGenWeb Archives.
  13Robert Halley family Bible.

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